The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, or “Joint Powers Authority”, or “JPA” is known for its rather clubby politics, at times so much so that it leads many to question how it operates. One of those who’s done so, or formed a conclusion, is Oakland Tribune Reporter Angela Woodall.
Woodall regularly covers the JPA, so her Twitter tweet released on March 16th is valuable (the screen shot was taken in case Woodall deletes the tweet). This is what she tweeted:
It is not an exaggeration to say the O.co JPA shares similarities with Tammany Hall http://bit.ly/zasxNW. Will livestream April meeting
The reason why this blog post uses the word “Corrupt” in the title and not “Tammany Hall,” is because in 2012 there will be more people who don’t know what “Tammany Hall” is, but do know the meaning of the term “corrupt.” But for much of the late 20th Century, any use of the name “Tammany Hall” in a sentence that did not involve Tammany Hall implied that the subject in question was in some way corrupt.
Basically “Tammany Hall” was a New York political organization known for the practice of what was called “honest graft” or “Taking advantage of the money-making opportunities that might arise while holding public office.” In other words, Woodall’s implying that the politicians who run the JPA are doing just that: working money-making deals.
From a pure development standpoint, she’s correct: the Coliseum City plan basically calls for the JPA to assemble money-making deals – money for the JPA itself. To the extent that involves the private pockets of the elected officials on the JPA is another larger question that Woodall has opened by her Twitter tweet.
This was the difference between honest and dishonest graft according to Taegan Goddard, of The Political Wire:
Taking advantage of the money-making opportunities that might arise while holding public office.
Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plunkitt defined “dishonest graft” as actual theft from the public treasury or taking bribes for making certain public decisions. “Honest graft,” however, simply meant pursuing the public interest and one’s personal interests at the same time. For instance, Plunkitt made most of his money through land purchases, which he knew would be needed for public projects. He would buy such parcels, then resell them at an inflated price.
Said Plunkitt in a famous defense of his actions: “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”
Does Angela think someone on the JPA’s on the take? Does that explain, as I’ve asked, how AEG could be allowed to come into a competition to manage the Coliseum, even without vast experience and with a dark cloud of scandal hanging over it with the Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit? Woodall says she’s going to live stream the April JPA, presumably to give the public a look at what a 21st Century “Tammany Hall” looks like.
This is why I was upset with Oakland Auditor Courtney Ruby. She had all the time in the world to focus on the Fox Theater, and in what looked like a smear campaign, but no time at all to put the hot light of scrutiny under the Coliseum JPA. Will AEG come in and play games?